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Wow, Tamarind

Shopping in a fresh herbs and spices store, I purchased a couple tamarind pods to see what they tasted like. Weighing nothing, they didn't charge me at check out.
I Googled to see where the spice was. It was the pulp and read the instructions how to get the pulp. I scraped the seeds and got about a tablespoon of the gooey pulp. The tamarind was in pod form in a huge bin, sold in bulk. (Someone buying the tamarind in this raw state must have to go through a lot of work to get enough to use.)
I see it's available as blocks online.
What a distinctive flavor.
What are some of your uses for tamarind?

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  1. Curries, Agua Fresca, with Chipotle for a sauce, Chutney, Fish soup, mixed with Sugar Salt and Chili as Candy, Sauce for Thai Miang kham.To name a few

    1. This thread will be some help. I buy the paste in a frozen block in my local 'Hung Long' asian store... not worth it to do the work of fresh, to me. I am happy to let someone in a streamlined shop somewhere get the fibers, etc. out, (and hopefully re-purpose the pods). A consistent product I can buy, thaw, and divide into portions works great for me...

      See this for ideas:

      There are more threads. Use the search in upper right, and just type in "tamarind paste".

      1. I recently made this recipe for pad thai and it turned out excellent: http://www.templeofthai.com/recipes/p...

        I used the same dried, in-the-pod type tamarind that you bought. To get at the pulp, I cracked off as much of the shell as I could, covered the remaining pulp/seeds/membrane/stuck-on bits of shell with boiling water and soaked it all for about half an hour. Then I mashed it up really good with my hands, wrung out and tossed as much of the seeds etc. as I could and then strained the rest. It really wasn't that much work and it made a smooth, thick puree-like paste that tasted great. From what I've read, the tamarind blocks still have membranes and seedy bits mixed in and you have to go through a similar process or soaking and straining to get at the pulp (although you don't have to shell them first).

        That pad thai was the only time I've ever actually used tamarind (although I've had tamarindo agua fresca), but the tamarind made the dish! In fact, the only thing I changed about the recipe was that I added way more tamarind than was called for, and I think I will add even more next time.

        I imagine it would make a great ingredient for salad dressing or worked into a cheesecake somehow

        9 Replies
        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

          Great help.
          Thanks to all.
          This info will keep me busy.
          I'll order the paste online.
          I can't imagine someone doing it by hand.

          1. re: sylvan

            Consider buying it in concentrate form. No seeds or pulp, extremely convenient and easy to use. I would think most Asian markets carry it (16 oz for 3-4$) but it can be found online as well.

            1. re: sylvan

              I think it is done by hand, just in places where labor is cheap : Philippines, Thailand, Etc...

              1. re: chefj

                It really isn't that hard... aside from the soaking time, it seriously took me maybe 5 minutes to get the shells off (they just crack right off) and another 2 minutes to squish out the pulp and strain the paste. I ended up with maybe a cup of paste and it wasn't any harder than, say, peeling potatoes or shelling peanuts. Easier than shelling peanuts, actually. I mean, I wouldn't want to have to deal with pounds and pounds of the things, but I made enough paste for two batches of pad thai with no problem. And I think the whole bag of dried tamarind cost me less than a dollar. Also, I've read that while the blocks of pulp are pretty good, many products labelled "concentrate," "juice," or "water" are extremely watered down.

                There's some great information about preparing the pulp from both blocks and dried pods here: http://www.shesimmers.com/2010/05/how...

                1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                  I assume that this reply was meant for "sylvan"

                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                    thanks, BananaBirkLarsen
                    the store that sells tamarind in huge bins keeps filling the bins when they get empty, so apparently you're right in that a lot of people get it from scratch
                    When I tried it with two pods of maybe 5 seeds each, it was a bit time comsuming teasing the pulp off
                    I had to experiment
                    what a wonderful taste

                    1. re: sylvan

                      I imagine it would be time consuming to get the pulp off of the seeds without soaking them in water first! And yes, wonderful taste.

                    2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                      >Also, I've read that while the blocks of pulp are pretty good, many products labelled "concentrate," "juice," or "water" are extremely watered down.<

                      Tamicon - tamarind concentrate - no pulp - is readily available in small jars at your local IndoPak market. The opposite of 'watered down' - in fact, used in any significant quantity it will turn the dish an unappetizing (but tasty) shade of brown.

                      The wonderful tartness has inspired me to search for a poultry recipe similar to fesenjan (made with pomegranate). I really need to try the Pati Jinich recipe below...

              2. Tamarind is my favorite addition to homemade barbecue sauce.

                3 Replies
                1. re: vegetablecow

                  can chua soup - that marvelous vietnamese soup that is a little sweet, a little hot and a little sour - i make mine with fish stock, tamarind, fresh peeled tomatoes, pineapple, etc. you can also get tamarind soup mix in most asian groceries (like chicken bouillion) but it's easy enough to make this soup from scratch.

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    Penang assam laksa has tamarind in it.

                  2. I just made this Tamarind Ginger Fizz drink ( http://www.food52.com/recipes/4255_ta... ) to accompany Valentine's dinner tonight. It was amazing -- sort of like sparkling lemonade, but fruitier and kind of spicy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. in tea form on the rocks it's an excellent mixer for bourbon (or wherever else one might cook with bourbon)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hill food

                        Recently, a 'Crack Ham' recipe, which might benefit from a tamarind infusion, has floated around.

                      2. I love it in the Patti Jinich recipe for chicken with tamarind, piloncillo, dried apricot, chipotle chile, apricot jam, onions, garlic and chicken broth. It makes a great main course to be served with rice pilaf. If you're interest in the exact amounts I'll pody the recipe.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: SoozyQ

                          SoozyQ, yes please pody the recipe

                          1. re: sylvan

                            Sorry, didn't see the request. I'm posting (poding lol) the recipe.

                            Serves 8

                            4 chicken quarters, or 8 chicken pieces your choice
                            1 tsp salt or to taste (I use kosher or sea)
                            1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
                            1/2 cup vegetable oil
                            4 cups water
                            1/2 lb, about 34 cup, chopped dried apricots
                            2 tbsp apricot preserves
                            3/4 cup tamarind concentrate ( store bought or homemade)
                            2 tbsp sauce from chipotle chiles or more to taste

                            Thoroughly rinse chicken pieces and dry. Salt and pepper chicken
                            In a large skillet, het the oil over low heat. Add the cicken in one layer and slowly brown the chicken pieces for 45 mins to 1 hour. Turn the pieces occasionally so they brown evenly. Pour the water over the chicken and raise the heat to medium high to bring to a simmer.

                            Incorporate apricots, apricot preserves, tamarind concentrate, chipotle sauce, salt, stir and keep at a medium simmer for 35 mins until sauce has thickened to a thick syrupy consistency and coats the back of a spoon. You may have to reduce the heat.

                            Taste for salt and adjust to you preference.

                            Tamarind concentrate
                            1 cup

                            1/2 lb tamarind pods with their shells
                            2 cups boiling water
                            3/4 cup sugar
                            1 tbsp fresh lime juice
                            Remove the outer pod from the tamarinds, discard and put the pods in a bowl. Cover them with the water and let them sit anywhere from 2 to 24 hours.
                            With you hands, clean the tamarind from the large seeds and strains/threads. Strain in a colander, pressing with your hands or a spoon to get as much pulp as possible.

                            Place the resullting tamarind juice in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sugar. Let it simmer over medium heat for 30 mins. The juice should thicken to a syrupy consistency.
                            Squeeze in the fresh lime juice, let it simmer for a couple more minutes and let it cool. Refrigerate stored in a tight lid container. This concentrate with last for months.

                            Note: I am able to find the ready made concentrate in my local Latino markets and Asian markets as well. It's worth the search if you have any of these markets in your area.

                            1. re: SoozyQ

                              Wow, thought I checked for typos but synility, what can I say. I'm sure you know it should be 3/4 cup of chopped dried apricotsand not 34 and heat the oil instead of het. Sorry about errors.

                              1. re: SoozyQ

                                actually I beieve one DOES het up the oil.

                                1. re: hill food

                                  That's a different subject entirely!!!

                        2. Recent convert to tamarind here. Especially love it on Thai style egg dishes (so many recipes, all delicious), like son in law eggs.

                          RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
                          6 boiled eggs, peeled
                          3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
                          1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
                          3 tablespoons palm sugar
                          5 tablespoons tamarind pulp
                          1/4 cup water
                          1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
                          4 tablespoons fried shallots
                          2 tablespoons cilantro
                          2 tablespoons scallions

                          RECIPE STEPS:
                          In a medium sauce pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Take tongs and put the egg between the tongs. Gently place the eggs into the oil. Be careful to not over crowd the eggs in the pan. You will likely have to do this in two batch of three eggs. Deep-fried the eggs until the skin turns golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb oil.
                          Heat up a sauce pan with fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind pulp and water. Bring it to boil and pick out any stray pieces of tamarind or seeds. Remove from heat. Stir in red chili flakes.
                          Slice each egg into quarters. Place the eggs onto a plate. Ladle the sweet and sour tamarind sauce over the eggs. Sprinkle the fried shallots, cilantro and scallions.


                          1. My husband, from Jamaica, eats "tamarind balls" which are too sweet, and can lead to GI upset. But I recently bought what seemed like a very fresh box of tamarind pods. What a great tart! I am soaking the peeled "seeds".

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                              Worked out great. Not hard at all. Most is frozen in my ice cube tray. WAY easier than fava beans, which I will be harvesting shortly. I am totally making Patti Jinich.

                              Oh, wait...she's a person....

                            2. Tamarind is used a lot in South Indian cooking instead of lime/lemon. I use about 1 teaspoon of the concentrate when making a pot of Sambhar (Daal with vegetables). You can soak the pods in hot water for 10 minutes and then squeeze out what you can from the pulp. Use this 'juice' in your recipe. Dried kokum pods are another interesting way to add some sour flavors to a dish. These are used often in Keralan coconut milk curries.

                              1. I found a block of tamarind at the Oriental Grocery Store. I cooked with it and found a single seed in it. So I soaked the seed, etc. and now I have an eight inch tall tamarind tree. The tree has been a hoot to watch grow. Now I need to get the Thai cookbooks out again.